Olympic Dreams Come True,
with Thanks to UN Peacekeeping



Better World Campaign


26 July 2012

On Friday, London will welcome outstanding athletes from over 200 countries to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. Among them will be Augusto Ramos Soares and Juventina Napoleao, two proud competitors representing the small Pacific nation of Timor-Leste. When I visited Timor-Leste more than a decade ago as a Congressional staffer, the people of Timor-Leste were still stuggling to imagine peaceful times, much less a day when their nation would have the strength to send its citizens to the world stage. Yet, in a matter of hours, I will loudly cheer for Augusto Ramos Soares and Juventina Napoleao.

This feat might not have been realized without the dedication of United Nations peacekeepers. A little over a decade ago, Timor-Leste was not yet an independent country. However, a UN Peacekeeping mission helped turn the dream of independence into a reality in 2002. When violence erupted again four years later, peacekeepers helped restore stability, ensuring that the young nation could move towards a peaceful future.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon takes part in the torch run for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. | UN Photo: Eskinder Debebe

Today, UN peacekeepers continue to support Timor-Leste by bolstering the police force — training and recruiting officers — and promoting democracy. In fact, in the recent democratic elections, peacekeepers provided extensive technical and logistical support.

London will be the first Olympic Games for Napoleao and the second for Augusto Ramos Soares, who returns after competing in Beijing in 2008. For both athletes, the honors they bring to their country are largely a reflection of the hard-earned peace that UN peacekeeping facilitated. In the words of former President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, "Our athletes show the world that Timor-Leste has regained peace, tranquility, safety."

We greatly appreciate the steps you have already taken to thank UN peacekeepers, and as you join with friends and family to watch the Opening Ceremonies, we hope you will also encourage your loved ones to do the same. On this special occasion, let's spread the word by email, Facebook and Twitter, and recognize these brave men and women who promote peace and stability — not just in Timor-Leste, but in 17 missions around the world. Their work enables a new generation of youth, like Soares and Napoleao, to dream and achieve.


Peter Yeo
The Better World Campaign